The four and 1/4 hour depiction of the historical and personal events surrounding and including the decisive American civil war battle features thousands of civil war re-enactors marching over the exact ground that the federal army and the army of North Virginia fought on. The defense of the Little Round Top and Pickett’s Charge are highlighted in the actual three day battle which is surrounded by the speeches of the commanding officers and the personal reflections of the fighting men. Based upon the novel ‘The Killer Angels’
Oh my. I don’t know where to begin. Gettysburg is just too much to hande, even for an old grump and supercritic like me. I mean, look at the cast. It’s first rate. And they filmed on original locations with half a gazilion volunteering battle reenactors. For those of you who didn’t know, these are people who camp out on historical battlefields, with their extensive collections of military paraphernalia and uniforms and weapons, and pretend to relive the battles. From medieval kinghts tournaments up to the invasion of the normandy, and , yes, also some battles of the secession war, the American civil war 1861 – 1865 … or thereabouts. And these reenactors are often real history buffs and know exactly on which patch of land anything happened during that massive three-day skirmish. So the filmmakers couldn’t get away with many historical inaccuracies. And they didn’t.
And that’s it. That’s all the good stuff.
Now with that out of the way let’s have a look at this monster and judge this wannabe classic by its cinematic values. As so often the problems started already in the planning of the sales. Ted Turner (yes, that Ted Turner, Texan media mogul and America’s Cup contender and all-around hubris asshole), whos Network produced Gettysburg as a TV 6-part mini series, decided in pretty much the last minute, after the filming was done, to release it as a monolithic 4 and a half hours long movie instead of the series format! What a tragical mistake by a guy with more money than talent or clue.
As you can maybe imagine, TV series and cinematic movies are two very different beasts, with different tasks to fulfill and different profiles. And it never showed more clearly than in Gettysburg. Never ever felt the cinema screen, the epic drama so small, as in this plonker of a movie.
They didn’t even try to change it with nifty editing, which could have maybe saved the movie. No, they left it untouched, even released a director’s cut which added another useless quarter hour to its runtime. The result is a hot mess, a boring reenactment of some speeches and some choice skirmishes that happened throughout the battle.
If this was shown in TV, as originally planned, it would’ve been great. We could have marvelled about the best, most expensive reenactments … for a history class. For a big screen grand ole’ Hollywood studio production this was just not enough.
The acting was ok-ish. Serviceable. From such a great cast we’d expected better, more drama, more heartfelt acting, more emotion. These were people supposed to fight for their lives, ffs! But all in all they all just said their lines and … cut.
As so often the problem of Gettysburg (the movie! I can’t say anything about the actual city) was a bad screenplay and an incompetent director. This really felt like an overly loooong drawn out episode of some history channel TV production. In fact we watched Gettyburg in the same timeframe as the original battle: We spread it out over 3 days because we couldn’t stand this boredom for much more than an hour every day.
Pacing?, you ask? Listen, in 271 minutes there’s enough time to mention each fart by each extra but you can’t talk about pacing! There is no such thing as pace in this weirdly underpowered and sloppy wardrama.
CONCLUSION: The lion opened his mighty snout and … meow. =^.^=
WATCH IT? No. Really not. I mean it. If you’re an American history buff you already know everything there is to know about the war and this decisive battle in particular. The movie doesn’t add anything. It lives in that strangely unattractive wasteland in between History Channel and Big Screen Hollywood, in between documentary and drama, and falls flat in every regard.
YouTube saw it kinda exactly like me: